Watching the Horizon

Jean Denney reflects on how even the simplest changes can have long-term impacts on our physical and emotional health.

| January/February 2020

Photo by Pixabay/ybernardi

In 2019, I experimented with my posture during my weekly runs. Instead of allowing my whole foot or my heel to strike the ground first, I led each stride with the ball of my foot. This changed so many things all at once. My shoulders dropped, and the work of my legs transferred up toward my inner thighs and core. I became lighter with each stride, and the weight of my head no longer stressed my upper back by hanging forward, but rather steadied over my spine and found easy support over its spring-like curves.

Most remarkably, this slight shift in approach not only changed my physical posture, but also my mental and emotional focus. I was no longer scanning the ground; I was looking at the horizon, eyes set upon what lay in the distance. As the days grow darker and cooler, and my runs start earlier, I’ve grown to love my new focus. Each morning, I witness the sunrise; the pale, glittering frost on green grass; and — my favorite — patches of fog covering the sleepy trail like a blanket. For me, this small change is an example of just how interconnected the body, brain, and mind are, and how a conscious choice to change how I move can also change my attitude, my perception of my environment, and my experience.

I felt this change on a micro-scale, but the result of shifting focus can be the same across human communities and entire ecosystems. Even small changes create ripples, resulting in a network of ever-widening or deepening outcomes. You, too, can embrace small commitments that may have positive, large, and lasting effects for you, your family, your community, and the planet. The horizon is there, as sure as the sunrise, waiting for us to look up, consider the distance, and keep running.

Tell us what changes you’ve seen in your life as the result of small commitments or shifts in perspective by writing to me at Happy New Year!

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